Beyond the Hamptons: The Chapin Estate

By Stephanie Wilson

The Chapin Estate, tucked away in the Catskill Mountains, is an idyllic summer retreat for families looking to reconnect with each other whilst disconnecting from the rigors of city life.


 “It is about getting into a place that is completely the opposite of what they are used to. When you live in the city and you go home from work, you still feel the tension from the city. What you have here is entirely different.”

The movie Dirty Dancing is a coming of age story from a bygone era, one where families summer together in rich settings, bonding while being away from the demands of the city. This wouldn’t have been possible if said vacation had taken place, say, in the Hamptons, where a typical social calendar is as full as the Manhattan holiday season and family doesn’t have the time to talk-forget about playing charades in the main lodge. (Then again, Baby does forgo the charades in favor of less wholesome activities, but you get our point.) Today, two decades after Dirty Dancing’s closing scene declared summering with the family “dead,” a new development is resurrecting the idea upon the same hallowed grounds on which this movie was filmed. Not since Johnny and the staff took over the main floor during the end-of-season party with the choreographed dance has the Catskills been so cool.

Located just two hours from New York (even less time from North Jersey or Connecticut), The Chapin Estate is tucked in the Catskill Mountains near Bethel, New York. The development was dubbed The New Hamptons by National Geographic Explorer back in 2005; not only does it boast a wide array of notable residents, from Fortune 500 CEOs to movie producers, it offers city dwellers a chance to surround themselves in the wonder of nature without having to sacrifice an entire day to travel. The Hamptons have always been chic, but when one really wants to get away from it all-not just be immersed in it all, albeit in a different setting-The Chapin Estate offers the opportunity to do just that. Once the private hunting grounds for Chester Chapin Jr., a successful New York City entrepreneur from the late 1800s, the enclave has been transformed into a private development for those who want to get in touch with their natural side.

More than a century ago, Chester purchased these 18,000 acres and created a private retreat that he used to escape the pressures of New York City. Today, The Woodstone Companies is continuing his vision. The 2,500 acres under development is surrounded by 13,000 acres of untouched nature that will remain as such. “You won’t find a community like this certainly in the East,” explains Steve Dubrovsky, managing partner of The Woodstone Companies. “We have created compounds similar to the Adirondack Great Camps where there is a main lodge where people hang out before retiring to their guest homes-very much like in the early 1900s. The Chapin Estate is the 21st-century version.”

The gated community is divided into four neighborhoods-Swinging Bridge, along the banks and woods of the Swinging Bridge Reservoir; Top Ridge, along the banks and woods of the Toronto Reservoir; Misty Acres, along the banks, woods and pasture of Black Lake Creek; and Peninsula, along the banks and woods of the Toronto Reservoir, which is already sold out. No matter the neighborhood chosen, residents will find themselves surrounded by miles of natural trails and habitat, dotted with pristine lakes and reservoirs that allow for swimming, boating, and fishing-there is even a private fly-fishing stream. “A lot of people come up here to let their blood pressure drop a little bit,” says Dubrovsky. “It is about getting into a place that is completely the opposite of what they are used to. When you live in the city and you go home from work, you still feel the tension from the city. What you have here is entirely different.”

The homes, cabins, and family compounds in the community reflect that sentiment; more than 95 have been constructed thus far on the approximately 150 parcels that are sold. Many of those residences employ a “refined rustic” feel, which is how Dubrovsky describes the overall style and décor of the homes that feature hand-carved woodwork alongside the finest appliances and wine cellars. He has a decades-long history of planning, designing, and creating nationally acclaimed Adirondack and Northwestern-style custom homes in many states. A four-time circuit champion of the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association, he traveled the country and was inspired by various types of architecture and styles. His travels allowed him to develop a keen sense of what fits into a certain environment and what does not. “While I was a kid traveling to rodeos, I was in the design and construction business. When I would go on the road, whether it was the Northeast or the far West, I would keep a camera and a sketch pad. Between rodeo performances I would sketch all of the details of these places, and I gravitated towards the great Northwest and Adirondacks style,” he explains. “When you go into our homes at The Chapin Estate, the spirit flows with native timbers and branches reminiscent of the great lodges of the Northwest and great camps of the Adirondacks. By combining the two styles, we try to create large, comfortable homes for our clients with a special feel and look. Another goal is to have them look like they were constructed some 80 years ago. We accomplish this by preserving large trees on the property when planning the placement of the homes.”

It is a goal that he accomplished. Each home, designed and custom-created by Woodstone, is situated, built, styled, and decorated to best complement the natural surroundings. This results in a community that is both environmentally sensitive and incredibly private. But should the need to socialize arise (because, let’s be honest, what true New Yorker can go without outside contact for long?) The Chapin Estate Lake Club serves as a central lodge and gathering place. It has an outdoor pool, lounging deck, and a pavilion with a soaring stone fireplace, alongside a full catering kitchen and other amenities and luxuries, including a resident chef who can head to your home for private dinners. Additionally, the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts-on the site of the original Woodstock concert-is a 15,000-seat, state-of-the-art performing arts center and museum within a short five- to seven-minute drive from The Chapin Estate.

While it is hard to put a price tag on this lifestyle, the lots range from $150,000 to $500,000 for non-waterfront (typically six to 10 acres) and $600,000 to $1.2 million for waterfront.

The Chapin Estate
Bethel, New York